New Language Arts Complex for Golden West Community College Emphasizes Connection, Incorporates Sustainable Feature

 |  Building, Education, Sustainability

Sundt’s third project for Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach, California creates a new environment to encourage connectedness and collaboration. The Language Arts Complex (LAC) will support the growing needs of the school’s language arts programs with new classrooms, computer labs, gathering, office and support spaces, and a reading, writing and resource center.

The project started with the demolition of two existing structures to make room for the new and improved LAC. The new complex is 72,000 square feet, three stories, and made up of two separate buildings connected by internal bridges with a total construction value of $54.7 million. The construction team is working with HMC Architects and other partners to bring the high-level design theme of “connection” to life through features such as bridges connecting the two wings, open walkways and banded concrete paths to encourage pedestrian flow. The landscape is divided into four zones connected by concrete paths that incorporate visual design aspects such as colored concrete paving, site furnishings, boulders, communal tables and seating platforms to reflect the six distinct skills of the language arts: reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and visual representation. Sundt is building the project using the Construction Manager Multi-Prime method of delivery — unique, yet preferred by the client due to the added level of involvement it provides owners.

Bradley Jones, Assistant Project Manager in the Building Group’s California District, described how the team was able to achieve this cohesion and connectedness with the existing buildings: “[Golden West College] utilized the same architectural firm to design several of the campus’ new buildings, the GWCLA building incorporates design aspects from those. So, you have the physical connection with the overpass between the East and West sections of the LAC coupled with the design elements from other buildings around campus to create a unified look and feel.”

In addition to considering the other buildings on campus, the new LAC takes inspiration from the building’s purpose. The use of text is incorporated into much of the building’s decor, like the unique skylight design. During the day, shadows grow and move across the shaft walls, creating a string of seemingly random letters that actually make up a code using a language called Esperanto, which was built from elements of many other languages and designed to be easy for anyone to learn. It was developed in 1887 by L.L. Zamenhof, a Polish ophthalmologist, and intended for use as an international second language in the spirit of global unity and communication.

Translated into English, the code reads: “The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”

The same way the building’s purpose is incorporated into the design, its proximity to natural resources allows it to meet another purpose: Reduce the building’s carbon footprint and bring the district closer to achieving its goal of Net Zero Energy use on campus. Since the campus is located less than 5 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the architects incorporated mechanical elements to utilize the natural coastal breeze for cooling and regulating the internal temperature of the building. This system employs natural ventilation actuators operated by set internal and external temperature points. Each room has an exterior window and an interior transom window that will open simultaneously to catch the breeze, bring it in through the classroom, into the building, and then vent it up through one of two solar chimney stacks that extend through the roof on either side of the building.


Sundt topped out the Golden West LAC building in April 2022, and the project should complete in summer 2023. This will be one of the last major projects on the Golden West campus completed under Coast Community College District’s Measure M bond program, which aimed to provide modern facilities to support the district’s science and arts programs.

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